Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.
I loved well those cities,
I loved well the stately and rapid river,
The men and women I saw were all near to me,
Others the same—others who look back on me, because I looked forward to them,
- There are some strange things going on with verb tenses in this poem. Now the speaker is talking about himself as if he were in the future with us.
- He is, in essence, delivering his own eulogy.
- He felt close to all the people he saw, and even to us future generations.
(The time will come, though I stop here to-day and to-night.)
- Here's a very mysterious line. "The time" for what will come?
- He seems to be anticipating some time when he will be close to those future people, and the present moment is just a stopping place. In short, time is no obstacle to the speaker; he just chooses to be in the present.